A view from the top
Dawn Berry

Dawn Berry, Chief Operating Officer of Eden Futures

Reflections on the last decade

We cannot over-estimate the importance of social care as one of the supporting pillars in our society, equally as important as our health service, emergency services and governing bodies. I have seen great steps in the professionalisation of social care workers who support and offer a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people in our country. I hope to see the recognition deserving of that commitment into the future, and funding from central government to match the growing need.

I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most innovative and progressive organisations supporting people with complex needs who challenge the system and our teams. The work that is happening now to bring together health and social care commissioning cannot come quickly enough, and this government must support providers to innovate and enable them to build on what has already been achieved. We could support so many more people but we need the resource and commitment centrally to properly fund great social care.

Projections for the next decade

The future of the sector relies not only upon obtaining the funding so that organisations like ours can support more people to achieve, but also upon recruiting and retaining a professionalised workforce whose values and aspirations make people’s lives better. We have to start with recognising the work that the social care sector already does, and could do, to support people. Quite rightly, there is a focus on poor quality care and support; but it would be great to hear some of the positive stories – of which there are hundreds – so that the public can be made aware of the huge achievements and differences that are being made to people’s lives every day.

Insight

As Chief Operating Officer of a busy and growing business, it’s important for me to know what’s going on at all levels as I believe that this supports good decision-making. Eden Futures works closely with commissioning teams and I’m really proud of the collaborative approach that the team has when considering service quality, and we have achieved so much in the past few years that it’s also important for me to make sure that the whole team has the recognition it deserves. Recognising people’s strengths and values and what they can bring to the team, ensuring that each team member has the freedom to innovate and challenge themselves and the way in which we work, has brought the team together to achieve the best it can.

Influences

I have always loved learning from people around me who have been able to share their experiences, so the biggest influences on me have been my colleagues and friends over the years. Latterly, having a young family and all the additional challenges that provides has been a new learning experience bringing some great perspective to life – both at home and at work.

Lessons

My first manager instilled in me, very early on in my career, how important it is to maintain and insist upon the high standards that you set for yourself and for others. It may be a cliché, but I think that if something is worth doing, then it really is worth doing as well as you possibly can; ‘good enough’ should never be an option, always strive for excellence and the best results for everyone involved, be that your team members, the people you’re supporting or your organisation.

Advice

Never stop learning from those around you – always recognise that others can give you another perspective which you may not have thought of. Really listening to those around you, and taking the time to understand yourself and others, will support better decision making. Hand in hand with that, never make a decision in haste, there are few decisions that cannot wait until you’ve heard from everyone involved; and always remember the reasons you’re working in the sector – keep people at the heart of your business. CMM

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